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The Norfolk Churches Site: an occasional sideways glance at the churches of Norfolk

All Saints, Stibbard

Stibbard: substantially of the early 14th century

Read the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to see them enlarged.
from the south-east from the north-east - note Butterfield's raised aisle

    All Saints, Stibbard
18th century headstone   This pleasant, busy village is just to the north of the main Norwich to Fakenham road, and is a bit of a maze if you don't know it; we had to drive around for a bit before we found the church, which is set about fifty metres back from the road - you need to go along the edge of a playing field to get to it. Beside this field is the old village school, which has just closed to be replaced by a new one on the edge of the village. Somewhat bizzarely on this hot day in the scorching summer of 2006, the classrooms still had their Christmas decorations up.

All Saints, too, has been closed for a while. Emergency repairs had taken nearly a year to complete, but you know how it is with old buildings. Once you start poking about, you are bound to find something else wrong.

The church is now back in use, but most unusually has no keyholder notice. This is so unusual in this part of Norfolk that it had to be an oversight; we found the phone number of the PCC secretary on an official notice, and she came over and let us in.

While we waited, we explored the extensive and interesting graveyard. The 1757 memorial to George Copland includes an egg-timer, and, curiously, a corrected spelling mistake. This shows, I suppose, that the family could read.

All Saints has a perky little tower, and the church against it is essentially early 14th century, that is to say almost wholly Decorated. The best feature is the intriguing east window, where intersecting tracery builds to a quatrefoil, as if someone was trying something out and was pleased to find that it worked. The roof of the north aisle has been raised, and rises up to meet the nave roof. This is a symptom of another major event in the history of the building, for in the early 1860s it underwent a restoration by none other than the great William Butterfield.

You step into an interior which is clean and neat, as you'd expect after all the work. The most striking feature is the original rood beam, coloured by Butterfield but now fading pleasantly with age. Butterfield's is the font, a rather startling grey marble affair on a tight collonade. The north aisle was redesginated a memorial chapel after WWI. Curiously, you can see that the raised roof of the aisle means that the clerestory lets into the aisle itself.

The sanctuary is substantially Butterfield's too, with its ornate reredos and fancy communion rails, as I fear is the hideous pulpit; but he was restrained elsewhere here, and as a result there is a fine collection of medieval survivals, including two windows full of glass fragments, and the base of the rood screen, now stencilled.

There are some very characterful bench ends which include a chained animal with a man's head at its feet, a bearded man in what could be taken as a bowler hat, and a face on a poppyhead sticking its tongue out, which I have seen described variously as 'scandal' and as a green man. On a pillar of the arcade there is a large corbel carved with an angel, now serving as an image niche. I wonder if it was there originally?

  a collection of medieval glass fragments

Simon Knott, July 2006


looking east window sill angel corbel war memorial
west door sanctuary north aisle chapel Butterfield's font
a chained animal with a man's head at its feet bench end rude face bearded man in a bowler 

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The Norfolk Churches Site: an occasional sideways glance at the churches of Norfolk